My one and only bathroom is small enough that, anywhere but an apartment, it would barely qualify as a guest bathroom. There’s just enough room for a vanity, a toilet, a small shower/tub combo, and, with a little finesse, a tiny trashcan. My bathroom vanity is 24″, which is the smallest standard size, but still big enough that it takes up most of my tiny bathroom. And because it’s a full cabinet without any drawers or shelves, well, let me tell you, it definitely isn’t the best option out there. So lately I’ve been looking for bathroom vanities that do more with less space, so I can make a little more wiggle room in my very small bathroom, and maybe be able to find my hair spray when I need it.
Petite Open Shelf Vanities
The vast majority of bathroom vanities are designed to have a width that’s some multiple of six or twelve inches. There are reasons for this, not the least that it makes the math easier in the design phase. But if you have a truly small bathroom, it’s worth ditching the cookie cutter and putting out the extra effort to get a smaller vanity. Not only will it make your bathroom look and feel bigger, it’ll also give you greater control over supplementary storage, which is crucial in a small bathroom. And while it might not seem like a big jump from 24″ to 20″ (or from 20″ to 18″ or smaller), vanities in this extra small range are often much more intelligently designed. One of the most common layouts you’ll see is reminiscent of a style popular with much larger vanities: the open shelf. That is, instead of one large cabinet, you have a small cabinet under the sink, and an open shelf beneath that. This design works whether your vanity is 20″ or 12″, effectively giving you a little closed storage at waist height for personal items and an open space at the bottom for general bathroom items, like TP and spare towels.
If you’re looking to save floor space by hook or by crook, but you aren’t willing or able to add additional storage outside your vanity, your best option is a pillar style vanity. These are straight, narrow rectangular cabinets, sometimes as small as a foot wide. They typically have one long door that opens up on a cabinet divided by a shelf in the middle. More often than not, these have vessel sinks simply because there isn’t room to put a sink in the counter, so you have to stick it on the counter. That said, these are actually pretty nice, all things considered – the shelf in the middle helps keep the cabinet organized, and the fact that the sink is mounted on top means there’s actually more space inside the cabinet, too. Of any type of vanity in the under 24″ range, these probably offer the greatest quantity of private storage.
How small you can go with your bathroom vanity is going to depend a lot on your daily routine. If you’re someone who spends hours in front of the mirror every day and has an arsenal of beauty products, you can probably skip over this option. But if you’re more of a minimalist groomer, an efficiency style bathroom vanity is a great way to save a lot of space. Modeled after the kind of vanities you’d find on a small boat or RV, these have a very small, narrow rectangular sink, a one-handle faucet offset to one side, and a micro sized cabinet that’s just big enough for the most basic toiletries. Similar to the grey water taps being built into high efficiency water saving toilets, these are really only good for washing your hands and face and brushing your teeth and maybe a morning shave, but will leave a small bathroom feeling impressively large and open.
Full Extension Drawers
Drawers in any form are great if you can get them, but even in 24″ vanities, let alone ones that are smaller, drawers aren’t always easy to come by. The reason is simple: with a vanity that narrow, the underside of the sink and the plumbing are occupying primo real estate, meaning nine times out of ten, it’s a cabinet or bust. This Bella wall mounted vanity from RonBow is one of those rare and delightful exceptions. It has a deceptive two door cabinet on the front, but instead of opening up on a single empty space, it has a simple shelf and, beneath it, a full extension drawer. The “full extension” part makes it even better, because it means you can pull the drawer ALL the way out without worrying about it falling out, making it easy to access items you’ve stuffed way in the back of the drawer.
Wall Mounted Storage Cabinets
The biggest drawback to opting for one of these teeny tiny bathroom vanities is that you wind up with pretty much zero counter space – you might have room for a toothbrush holder and maybe a bar of soap, but anything else? Forget it. If you already have a 24″ vanity, you probably already know the feeling, but every inch you lose matters. So if you’re scaling back to a smaller vanity, make sure to choose one that has really good storage options, and I don’t just mean in the vanity itself. This Simple vanity from Iotti is already a good choice, with a petite two door cabinet and drawer around the bottom edge, but it’s the towel bar on the side and matching wall mounted storage cabinets that really take it to the next level. Wall mounted cabinets that have a slim profile (or, better yet, recess into your walls) offer accessible storage in a space that’s often overlooked. Combined with a medicine cabinet or other storage mirror, you’ll probably end up with more (and certainly better) storage than you would have in a full 24″ vanity.
But what do you think? Is gaining a little extra floor space worth having to get a little creative with your storage? Let me know in the comments below!